Friday, a fatal accident outside a downtown hotel led to a guilty verdict in court. Paul Gray Jr. was charged with running over and killing a woman while working as a valet driver.
A judge found Gray guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Gray struck 23-year-old Josephine Stone after she left work at Penny Lane Pub last October. Stone had recently graduated from VCU with a degree in journalism prior to the crash.
Gray now faces up to ten years in prison. The main issue argued in court Friday was whether or not Gray's actions rose to the level of criminal negligence.
There were a lot of tears inside the courtroom from Gray, his family and the victim, Josephine Stone's, family.
"Everybody is a loser in this case," explained defense attorney John Rockecharlie.
While he was on the stand, Gray addressed Josie's family.
"I was just doing my job. I'm so sorry this happened and I would take her place if I could," said Gray.
Stone and her husband were walking to a concert at The National last October just a few days before their anniversary. That's when Gray, who was working as a valet, ran over her.
"These cases are tough because nobody's submitting that Mr. Gray tried to kill anyone that night," prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland told us. "He didn't wake up that morning and say, ‘I'm going to try to take somebody's life.' It's obviously an accident."
The judge said the act rose to the level of criminal negligence and thus manslaughter because Gray was driving too fast, on a wet side walk with an obstructed view and didn't stop.
"We respect the judge's decision but we are bitterly disappointed," Rockecharlie said.
He argued Gray was not going as fast as witnesses said and this was a normal practice of valets at the Hilton Garden Inn. Rockecharlie said the 27-year-old did not show a reckless disregard for life. And throughout the almost four-hour-long trial, Gray cried and sobbed.
The Commonwealth maintained the defendant just had to go a few more feet to turn into the parking deck and Josie would still be alive today.
"I think the message that it does send that when you get behind the wheel of a car, you've got to engage in conduct that protects not just yourself but those that you might encounter," Thorne-Begland said.
Neither family wanted to talk on camera after the verdict was given.
Rockecharlie said he believes the case sets up for an appeal but hasn't discussed the idea with his client.
Gray remains out on a $10,000 bond until sentencing, which is set for July 24. The maximum penalty for involuntary manslaughter is ten years.
He also faces a multi-million dollar civil lawsuit filed by Stone's husband, John. The suit claims Josephine Stone's death was a direct result of the negligence, recklessness and a conscious disregard for her rights and safety.
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